ILOILO – The provincial government is struggling to prevent and control the spread of rabies for the past five years but its chief executive remains enthusiastic that Iloilo can have rabies-free zones in micro level.
In a statement, Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. said it is possible to establish rabies-free zones in Pan de Azucar and Botlog Islands in Concepcion where animal population is controlled and manageable.
“In 2015, Iloilo was declared filariasis-free. Similarly, I want to establish rabies-free zones in the province to showcase to all mayors that it can be done,” said Defensor, adding that the two islands are now ready for national evaluation on August 14-16.
Since 2011, Defensor has established Animal Bite Treatment Centers (ABTCs) in 12 district hospitals to properly manage the increasing animal bite cases in Iloilo.
He also extended its services by establishing additional ABTCs in Sta. Barbara, Oton, Carles and San Joaquin.
His office has allocated P2-million for the procurement of rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin this year.
Also, the Provincial Health Office has P2.5-million and Provincial Veterinary has P1,032,000 budget for the same.
“The goal is to end human rabies in Iloilo by strictly enforcing the law and intensifying the campaign on responsible pet ownership,” he stressed.
Based on statistics, human rabies deaths in Iloilo decreased from three in 2011 to only one in 2013.
But it rose to two in 2014 and five in 2015 due to low dog vaccination coverage, especially in areas stricken by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
The people at that time were engrossed with post-Yolanda rehabilitation and recovery efforts, said Provincial Rabies Coordinator Estifania Gigare of the Provincial Health Office.
The recorded human rabies deaths correspond to the increasing number of animal bite cases in the province from 11,553 in 2011 to 22,189 in 2015.
Most of these cases occurred in Passi City (1,461), Lambunao (1,072), Pototan (988), Janiuay (936) and Calinog (861) in 2015.
Majority of these cases affect teenagers aged 15 and 71-82% of the biting animals involve dogs.